Grieving son, 9, may force driving tests for tourists

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 16/04/2014
Sean Roberts
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ
ON A MISSION: Sean Roberts, 9, wants to know why tourists are still able to drive in NZ, despite a concerning number of crashes caused by people holding international licences.

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The Government will look at driving tests for tourists following a petition from a 9-year-old Geraldine boy.

In a letter to Sean Roberts, Associate Minister of Transport, Michael Woodhouse said he would ask officials to provide advice on Sean's proposal.

Sean petitioned for tourists to be required to sit a practical driving test before being able to drive in New Zealand after his father was killed by a Chinese motorist, who had been in the country one day.

Grant Roberts was killed in 2012 while riding a motorcycle on the Lindis Pass.

Woodhouse also said a special project, Safer Journeys, would include aims to improve the safety on the roads in the lower South Island.

He noted Sean's petition had made him "think hard about about other ways we can make our roads safer in places like Central Otago, where large numbers of visitors drive in conditions that are very different to what they are used to".

Sean created a petition for tourists to sit a practical test before being able to drive, to honour both his father and those who had lost loved ones in a similar manner.

"I did it because I didn't want others to feel how I did. Sometimes people have to try and make a difference," Sean said.

He said he was supported by his brother, mother and mother's partner throughout the process. "I couldn't have done it without them."

Sean said that he was "gobsmacked" by Woodhouse's personalised response, and the actions being considered as a result of the petition.

Sean's mother, Mel Pipson, said she was proud of what he had achieved but was proud of all of her children, especially their attitude after the death of their father.

"The way they have carried themselves through the adversity has amazed me. It's tough on them. Grant was a great father. Anyone that knew him, knew he was a father first. They all really miss him," Pipson said.

She said they have been following the petition online closely, and have worked out every 25 minutes of the 29 days it has been online someone has signed it.

"It's pretty special the kids can do something like this in memory of their father," she said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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